You may be too young to remember, but 1983 was a bad year for video games.
The great video game crash of 1983 hit the industry hard, utterly destroying the then-thriving second generation of console gaming in North America. Several developers went bankrupt, the market was flooded with embarrassingly terrible games and in turn the gamers suffered. Gaming was doomed. It was the stuff of nightmares.
It wasn’t until 1985, due to the growing popularity of the new Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), that the industry started to rebound.
Before that, though, Stephen Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestral had launched with explosive success at the box office. In hopes of high Christmas sales because of the connection to the hit movie, Atari commissioned Howard Scott Warshaw (who had just released the fantastic Yars’ Revenge) to design the video game adaptation. It was a solid plan for success, but Warshaw would only have five and a half weeks to develop the game.
The result, E.T. the video game, was one of the worst video games ever released and is well known as one of the most tremendous commercial failures in video gaming history. E.T. is commonly cited as a major contributing factor to Atari’s massive financial losses that year and is at least partially responsible for the video game crash of ‘83.
It has been rumored that in September of 1983, Atari conducted a massive burial in the New Mexican desert under the cover of darkness. It was said that a number of semi trucks filled with Atari consoles and games from a storehouse in Texas were crushed and buried in a landfill near the town of Alamogordo. Included in the mass grave is generally believed to be several million copies of E.T. that were allegedly crushed and encased in solid concrete to avert grave robbing.
If this all sounds like urban legend to you, you’re not alone. People have wondered for decades about the validity of the claims.
Well, we may be close to finding out the truth. Recently, Canadian film company, Fuel Industries was granted six months of access to the site by the Alamogordo City Commission. The film company intends to make a documentary about the burial and excavation of the site. The company, along with Xbox Entertainment Studios, plans to air the documentary exclusively on Xbox One and Xbox 360 sometime later this year.